Crab Is King, Omega-3 Is Prime Minister

I don’t know how to cook crab. But tonight, as the 12 residential colleges faced off in Iron Chef Yale: The Final Cut, the culinary artists got creative.

Saybrook College freshmen Danijela Bule, J.J. Masko, and Katherine McComic swiftly working to prepare their crab dishes at the 3rd Annual Iron Chef Yale. On the menu? Wonton pot-stickers and mahi mahi stuffed crab!

So, besides serving as the contest’s “special ingredient,” what makes crab so special? Sure, king crabs, residing in the cold waters off the Alaska coast, are praised for their flavor and texture. (I’m not sure if the crabs are too thrilled about this compliment.) And perhaps consuming crab legs is not only tasty but also sharpens your dexterity skills–getting that savory crab meat sure is a challenge.

But lately, the King’s greatest publicity stunt has been for his good health. Crab legs, like other seafood, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

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The Future of Your School Lunch?

My high school “attempted” to improve the nutritional value of school lunches by introducing “fry-less Fridays.” Rather than serving greasy French fries, my school introduced the much healthier alternative of tater tots.

Therefore, it came as no surprise when researchers at the University of Michigan published a study in December’s American Heart Journal stating that sixth graders that regularly had the school lunch were 29 percent more likely to be obese than those who bought lunch from home.

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Food as a Culture, Taste the Rainbow

If I say “taste the rainbow,” would you think of Skittles? That image of Skittles falling to the ground like raindrops comes to my mind. When I was younger, I used to get Skittles confused with M&M’s. They may not taste the same, but both are heavily advertised, multi-colored discs. And both are common treats I could find in my Halloween bag.

Food is amazing in that way. It is more than simply nutrition–or, for Skittles, lack of nutrition. I never liked Skittles very much, although I remember commercials, personal experiences, and holidays that concern this candy. Continue reading

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Mobile Food Vending: Move Toward Nutrition Goals

I still remember how an ice cream truck would be stationed less than 50 feet from my high school.  When the bell rang signaling the end of the school day, a constant stream of students would stand on line.  Each time I walked passed the truck, I applauded this entrepreneur for such a smart business move.  The ice cream man parked outside the high school from 10-3, but, after serving hungry teenagers, he could drive around that afternoon and evening feeding eager 10-year-olds.

Although this ice cream man is not the prototype for the typical food vendor, a recent article analyzing the potential of mobile food vending to increase access to nutritious food caused me to flashback to those days.  This article in the American Journal of Public Health examined the mobile food vending laws of the 10 most populous cities.  The authors, doctors and lawyers in California, aimed to understand how these food vendors can be mobilized to tackle the obesity epidemic. Continue reading

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Low-Sugar Cereals Are Just As Gr-r-reat (& Healthier)

Think kids need their Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam, or Fred Flintstone to eat their breakfast in the morning?  Most kids prefer eating the unhealthy sugary cereals that are heavily advertised on TV.  A study conducted by Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, though, showed that kids will be just as satisfied eating low-sugar cereals, increasing the overall nutritional quality of their breakfasts.

At a very young age, you learn that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”    Eating breakfast increases attentiveness at school and consumption of milk.  Plus, most cereals today are fortified with a bunch of important micronutrients: iron, folic acid, Vitamin D, calcium.  Parents fear that if they take away the high-sugar cereals, they take away breakfast entirely.  And a sugary breakfast is better than no breakfast at all. Continue reading

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Buckle Up – Changing Food Defaults

The other day, my fortune cookie read, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”  After wondering if this were really a fortune or simply a common cliche, I started to think about the capacity for food legislation to change people’s behavior.  Every person has at least some rudimentary understanding of which foods are healthy and unhealthy, and yet they frequently don’t make the healthiest choices.  How can the government’s efforts to point out things most people already know really change their eating behavior? Continue reading

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Soup Intake & Obesity Prevalence

To fight the freezing winter, who doesn’t love to heat up with a bowl of soup?  And a series of studies, the most recent among Japanese men, suggest that this soup may have health benefits besides just warding off the cold.

A Japanese study in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that the frequency of soup intake is inversely associated with BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio.  This finding adds to previous studies in France, Italy, and Portugal that found the same relationship between soup intake and BMI.  One study even showed that Portugese girls aged 5 to 10 years with high soup consumption were less likely to be overweight.

However, despite these negative correlations, our understanding of soup’s true influence on obesity and other metabolic factors remains just as unclear as your favorite clam chowder. Continue reading

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